Use of an anti-apoptotic CHO cell line for transient gene expression

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Abstract

Transient gene expression in mammalian cells allows for rapid production of recombinant proteins for research and preclinical studies. Here, we describe the development of a polyethylenimine (PEI) transient transfection system using an anti-apoptotic host cell line. The host cell line, referred to as the Double Knockout (DKO), was generated by deleting two pro-apoptotic factors, Bax and Bak, in a CHO-K1 cell line using zinc finger nuclease mediated gene disruption. Optimized DNA and PEI volumes for DKO transfections were 50% and 30% lower than CHO-K1, respectively. During transfection DKO cells produced relatively high levels of lactate, but this was mitigated by a temperature shift to 31°C which further enhanced productivity. DKO cells expressed ∼3- to 4-fold higher antibody titers than CHO-K1 cells. As evidence of their anti-apoptotic properties post-transfection, DKO cells maintained higher viability and had reduced levels of active caspase-3 compared to CHO-K1 cells. Nuclear plasmid DNA copy numbers and message levels were significantly elevated in DKO cells. Although DNA uptake levels, as early as 40 min post-transfection, were higher in DKO cells this was not due to differences in cell surface heparan sulfate (HS) or initial endocytosis mechanism as both cell types utilized caveolae- and clathrin-mediated endocytosis to internalize DNA:PEI complexes. These results suggest that the increased transfection efficiency and titers from DKO cells are attributed to their resistance to transfection-induced apoptosis and not differences in endocytosis mechanism. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1050–1058, 2013

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